Long before I became a staff member for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), I attended the the Virtual School Symposium or VSS. The conference itself has been around for longer than iNACOL because originally the conference was sponsored by eCollege before the organization itself was established. For those interested in more history of iNACOL, you can read more here. I can remember the first VSS that was held in 2000 because I did not get to attend. At the time, the Director of Technology and Associate Superintendent from the school district where I was working did attend. The “aha” for them by attending that first VSS was that if a high school online course was going to be effective, it did not mean they could increase the number of students per teacher. Many myths about online learning have been clarified by those who attend VSS.
I was fortunate to attend VSS in 2011 and many subsequent VSS conferences. At each one, my knowledge and passion for online and blended learning grew. Next thing I knew I was principal of an online high school and then working for iNACOL full time (not at the same time of course).
One of the great ironies of attending VSS in person is that some wonder why online or blended educators can’t just learn about all the things regarding online and blended learning online…I mean, after all, part of these teachers and administrators existence is with people they may never see face-to-face! The reality is that, as humans, we enjoy and crave meeting other people face-to-face. And while interactions online provide information in ways that you cannot do face-to-face….there are interactions that occur face-to-face that you cannot do online . So, that’s the fun of VSS – you get to meet the people in person you have only met online for the past year.
Leading up to VSS next week, we are sponsoring daily Tweets with the hashtag #VSS12 and in particular, we will have a Tweet Up on Wed. Oct. 17 at 5:30 ET. A new addition for VSS this year will be the use of the Social Media tool called Pathable – all conference attendees are automatic members.
And, of course there is still time to register and be part of VSS12 – along with the other 1900 people who are already registered. I will enjoy hearing about what others look forward to while attending VSS.